Swain's (Hairdo!) anecdotal, accessible examination of candy serves up tempting nuggets but coats its appealing topic in occasionally artificial trappings. Its protracted introductory passages, for example, contain such filler as "Store shelves are filled with bright, shiny packages of candy in mouthwatering flavors and crazy, new shapes. Candy companies work hard to get you to buy their brand of candy." The historical discussion includes more newsworthy items: traders and knights returning from the Crusades brought sugar to Europe in the Middle Ages; when Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes demanded to see the Aztecs' treasure, he was given not gold but chocolate, which he brought back to his homeland. The prose, however, can be awkward: "India is where sugarcane was growing when people there first learned how to take the sweet juice from the tall canes"; "Maple sugaring has been a happy time for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years for people living in the northeastern United States." Luckily, O'Brien's (Red, White, Blue, and Uncle Who?) characteristically quirky illustrations are consistently delectable, presenting such droll images as a woman pushing a Baby Ruth bar in a pram and a startled Goldilocks lying in bed as three Gummi Bears stand in the doorway. A timeline and three recipes (for sugar paste, fudge and taffy) are included. Ages 6-9. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-From information about the ancient Egyptians to modern Danes, who each consume an average of 36 pounds of sweets per year, this work is packed with savory tidbits that will keep readers turning pages. Those familiar with the author's Hairdo!: What We Do and Did to Our Hair (Holiday, 2002) will immediately recognize the format. The trivia is presented quickly and loosely in chronological and geographical order. Swain begins with the origin of the word "candy"-from the Arabic "qandi" which in turn has an Indian Sanskrit background. From here the history moves to ancient Egyptians and Romans, Europeans of the Middle Ages, Native Americans who favored maple syrup, Queen Elizabeth I, who ruined her teeth with "kissing comfits" and "dry suckets," Mayans who held the real treasure (chocolate), and 19th-century "penny candy." Not to be overlooked are modern giants like Milton Hershey and Gummy Worms. To continue the sweet thoughts, there are three recipes: Sugar Paste (a 20th-century adaptation of a 16th- and 17th-century recipe), Vassar Fudge (definitely higher education), and "Belly-guts" Taffy (the strands look like what hung in butcher shops). O'Brien's colorful cartoon drawings take the text to a new and funnier level. This is a nonfiction treat that youngsters will enjoy with their dentists' blessings.-Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kids and candy naturally go together and this brief history of types of candies and chewing gum is cunningly sweetened with O'Brien's finely crosshatched, stippled illustrations. The handwritten-style text explains the origins of sugar, chocolate, and the word "candy," always addressing the reader in the second-person. The wryly humorous drawings mockingly construe reenactment scenes, e.g., an Indian woman collects maple syrup by standing on a stack of pancakes; kids ride bikes and velocipedes made of peppermint penny candies. A fascinating four-page time line runs from 1493, when Columbus took sugar cane seedlings to the Americas, to 1900, when Milton Hershey made a five-cent chocolate bar, to 1999, when radio lollipops were invented. Recipes for Sugar Paste, Vassar Fudge, and Belly-Guts Taffy included. An average American eats 25 pounds of candy per year-indeed, how sweet it is! (brief bibliography) (Nonfiction. 6-10)